The new Highway Rat Trail at Wendover Woods opened about a month ago but this weekend was our first opportunity to visit the woods and try the trail! This morning the sun came out and despite freezing temperatures we decided to wrap up warm and head to the woods. The new trail is a forest adventure aimed at younger children, where you can complete activities, rubbings and search for characters from the story by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
The Highway Rat Trail at Wendover Woods is only half a mile long and the route is fairly flat but with lots of activities along the way and woodland to explore, it took us about an hour to go all the way round. The woodland path was very muddy in places and we were very glad we remembered the children’s waterproof trousers… their legs were covered in mud by the end of the walk!
There are characters to spot along the trail and the first we came to was a grey squirrel eating a Gruffalo biscuit. Keep your eyes peeled as a crow, horse, beaver, duck and the Highway Rat all make an appearance along the way.
We are huge fans of the Forestry Commission trails. They are a great way to motivate younger children on a walk in the great outdoors. The low winter sun glinted through the branches and brought welcome warmth to my face as my toes turned numb. It is the curse of being a parent that you bring welly socks, extra jumpers, gloves and hats for your children but completely forget your own extras. Thankfully I had a spare fleece to put under my coat but I lost all feeling in my toes (I told you it was freezing).
Some of the stops on the trail have a ‘food stash’ rubbing. There was a cake, a nut, a sweet and something that I think looks like a tomato but everyone else is convinced it is an apple (just so you know, it’s definitely a tomato). The crayon in the activity pack meant that we could have a go at the rubbings and Mr 2 really enjoyed having a go, although he needed some help from his older brother.
At the end of the trail there is a brilliant ‘Wanted’ poster with a cut-out so you can pop your head into the frame and then we finally found the Highway Rat.
It’s a short walk from the end of the trail back to the car park and the cafe. Be warned that when we visited in January 2018 the play area had been dismantled and cordoned off, as the Forestry Commission begin some works which will eventually improve the facilities for visitors to Wendover Woods.
We’ve had so many grey and rainy days recently so it was fantastic to see the warm glow of the low sun and although it was really cold, no-one complained! The trail was the perfect length for little legs at this time of year and is especially good fun for fans of the Highway Rat book or the television adaptation that had its first screening on the BBC at Christmas.
The fun isn’t limited to Wendover Woods and you can visit the Forestry Commission website for more information on the Highway Rat Trails all over the country.
Top Tips for a visit to the Highway Rat Trail at Wendover Woods
- Take change for the car park. When we visited the current charges were £1.70 for two hours, £3.30 for 4 hours, £6.10 for all day. Visit the Forestry Commission website for the latest information.
- The Highway Rat Activity Pack is £3 per pack. Buy your pack from the cafe before you start the trail.
- The Highway Rat Trail is only half a mile long and the path is fairly flat, however, it was very muddy in places. Waterproof trousers or a change of clothes are a good idea depending on the time of year.
- Take newspaper or a bin liner to line the boot of your car. The trail is quite muddy and our boots were filthy by the time we went home.